The Golden Rule Facts for 9-13 Year Olds

(Matthew 7:12)

Categories: Sermon on the Mount

  • Jesus has been encouraging his disciples to trust in the love of the Father.
  • Then he gives them what has become known as the Golden Rule.
  • He says, “So therefore, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”
  • It begins with So therefore..., a summary statement.
  • Many scholars see this as a reference to the previous sentence. God gives freely; treat others freely.
  • Many cultures have similar sayings.
  • Confucius says, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
  • Epictetus, a Greek philosopher, states, “What you avoid in suffering, do not inflict on another.”
  • Leviticus 19:18 states, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • An apocryphal book, Tobit, states, “Do to no one what you yourself dislike.”
  • Legend has it that a gentile approached Rabbi Hillel (ca 110-10 BCE) and demanded to be taught the whole of the Torah (the Jewish Scripture of Law) while he stood on one leg.
  • The rabbi responded with, “Whatever is hateful to you, do not do to anyone else. This is the whole of Torah.” He added, “The rest is commentary. Go learn.” Commentary is a lot of explanation.
  • This phrase is not found, per se, in the Old Testament but is commonly referred to as the Jewish version.
  • Many scholars have pointed out that Jesus’ account is positive, while others are negative.
  • Surely, the intent is the same.
  • In reality, however, the negative form only requires us not to do bad things to someone else.
  • A person might fulfill this saying by doing nothing with anyone. In that sense, a person isn’t hurting anyone, but not helping either.
  • So he/she would be “good” by not doing anything.
  • The positive form requires more.
  • It states that one should do good, go out of his/her way to be helpful.
  • It isn’t enough to avoid harming someone, you have to actively engage and help others.
  • Do unto others what “you” would have them do unto to you.
  • That “you” is again emphatic—think of an exclamation point at the end—You!
  • Being a disciple takes work. Everything that is given by God is to be done for others.
  • Everything is rooted in God’s love for us, and our response is to “pay it forward” to others. What God does for us, we do for others.
  • If this would be the core value for everyone, evil would be destroyed.
  • People wouldn’t have to wonder about what to do, seek the counsel of others, use the courts, or be frozen in fear.
  • They generally know how they want to be treated in any given situation.
  • That knowledge tells them what they should be doing for someone else.
  • The only question to be answered is, “How do I want to be treated?” Then, we treat others that way.
  • The Golden Rule is the core of ethical behavior and it, essentially, requires service to others.
  • This can only be done because the disciple loves God above all else.
  • Jesus concludes his stunning statement by adding: “for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
  • The “Law and the Prophets” is another reference to the whole of Scripture.
  • Jesus could be saying that this Sermon sums up the law and the prophets. What an incredible claim!
  • Or perhaps he is saying that this one sentence is all you need to know to fulfill the demands of Scripture!
  • Either way, Matthew is not trying to get rid of the rest of Scripture. Rather, he is pointing out that everything is based on this one premise, or concept.
  • If you can practice the Golden Rule, everything else, even the rest of Scripture (the Bible) will fall into place.
  • Disciples will know what to do; disciples will trust in God’s love.
  • At 5:17, Jesus states, “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
  • Jesus’ initial goal for the Sermon was to “fulfill” the Law and the Prophets; now he is “summarizing” them.
  • This sermon is not just talk.
  • It is not one option among many options.
  • It is the exclusive way to life.